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Weekend in Sihanoukville

Beach, cocktails, banana boat and sleazy westerners

semi-overcast 33 °C

Affording ourselves a little lie-in, when we finally got out of the guest house, the rest of the group staying in the neighboring Led Zephyr was nowhere to be found. Knowing that this could be by design or fully unintentionally, I decided to head to the beach for breakfast. If they are to be anywhere, it would be there. But before that, there was a refund to be collected from Led Zephyr for the non-existent 8-persons dormitory from previous night.
View from the hotel room

View from the hotel room


Seeing Sihanoukville in the daylight reconfirmed my suspicions from previous night. It is by far the touristiest part of Cambodia I have seen, resembling less developed version of Mallorca but with Cambodian twist. The high street leading towards the mini harbor is lined with restaurants and shops selling bikini and clothes, as well as ticket sellers and tour operators. The beach carries on in a similar theme with bars and restaurants on one side of the ‘promenade’ and sun loungers and comfy seating on dotted on the fine but somewhat littered sand.

The most striking thing about the beach is the sea of micro-sellers offering bracelets, sunglasses and every possible beauty treatment not requiring scalpel. It is clear that they all have learnt the same lines, generally consisting of ‘do you want ….’, ‘what’s your name’, ‘where are you from’ and ‘later?’, ‘if you want to buy, promise you will not go to anyone else’. No pressure.
The Sihanoukville beach

The Sihanoukville beach


Successfully avoiding spending a penny (for now), Nicola and I walked along the beach until we spotted a group of familiarly looking bunch, chilling on rattan armchairs. Realising that we were the only two people not to have eaten yet, we found a shady spot in one of the restaurants ordering a delicious smoothie and omelet.

With only one full day in town, it was generally accepted that trips to the nearby islands will have to wait until next time. Instead, we spent the day chilling, swimming, getting soaked during a rather bumpy banana boat ride (which I opted out off to look after the bags) and unsuccessfully resisting the beauty ladies infesting the beach.

Pretty much everyone had something done, with my 7USD for a manicure and eyebrow threading being one of the smaller investments. Just as well that I grew somewhat resistant to the aggressive selling techniques of local ladies, otherwise their insistence on threading my under-arms and legs, including bikini line could have been taken quite personally. They did, however, make me promise to reconsider and come back on Sunday.
Buying fruit from a beach seller

Buying fruit from a beach seller


Set on seeing sunset over the bay, the group disbanded around 4pm to hit the shower and get changed for the night. Making it back to the beach just in time, we settled in for a number of excellent and rather potent Mai Tais, admiring the changing colours in front of us.

With the receding light, the mini-entrepreneur scene around the beach also changed. Women with beauty baskets and bracelets and men with sun glasses gave way to children selling fireworks. Only the many crab sellers sporting huge trays of crab stayed little bit longer, trying to get a share of the dinner-time money to be spent by the many tourists. Whilst the seafood on offer looks great, spending the day on the beach in the scorching sun means that its freshness is highly questionable. Unfortunately, I did not exactly fancy a crab or a king prawn for breakfast and so my Sihanoukville trip was absolved of any seafood nibble. Well, there will be other times.

After giving the children 3rd degree about their school attendance (to avoid encouraging parents to keep children on the streets instead of at school), a couple of girls bought a selection of fireworks, taking care of entertainment until we agreed that it was time to line our stomachs with something more substantial than Mai Tais.

Opting for an Indian food, we headed back to the high street, before deciding to get back to the Led Zephyr, which is coincidentally one of the best places in Sihanoukville for life music and music in general. Here we topped up our cocktail intake whilst listening to Jimmy Hendrix tribute band and playing few games of pool.
Kids playing on a water swing

Kids playing on a water swing


Like Thailand, Cambodia tends to attract middle aged and older men, taking advantage of the many women who are keen to better their lifestyles by selling themselves to generally unattractive and sleazy westerners. Many of them bare striking resemblance to Gary Glitter and the likes. As a result, many of the local bars are frequented by balding men with beer guts, decorated by bored-looking local girls on adjacent bar stools.

Unfortunately, some of these men are apparently failing to recognize that money is the only reason why these often gorgeous women are voluntary being bored to compliance. This sometimes demonstrates itself by over-confident nods accompanied by creepy winks in other women’s directions, including myself and the other girls in my group. Raised eyebrows generally do the trick but as we quickly learnt, pub crawl is a good way to shake off some of the less receptive cases.

Buying return bus tickets the previous evening, our Sunday departure at 1.30 meant that we had just enough time to relax on the beach and get lunch, before facing a journey back to Phnom Penh. I even had my legs done by one of the ladies from previous day, which was just as well as the bus once again took ages and so I only arrived in Phnom Penh at 8pm. This mixed with another power cut and non-arriving text messages also meant that my plan to meet-up with a friend of mine who arrived in Phnom Penh the previous day had to be delayed until she was back from Siem Riep.

Posted by TheDukes 16:50 Archived in Cambodia Tagged beach cambodia phnom_penh sihanoukville

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